Don’t Connect The Dots

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Awesome entry from Greg Stier, the President of Dare2Share Ministries about the sovereignty of God in relation to our evangelistic responsibilities.

Have you ever known somebody who meant well, but couldn’t quite connect the  dots socially? Someone who was sincere, naïve and, well, not all that bright  when it comes to relationships? Usually we feel bad for this kind of person  because they don’t quite get it. They try to hard asking that  out-of-their-league girl out. They don’t get non-verbal cues from others that  they are not interested in carrying on a conversation. They can’t quite connect  the dots. Continue reading

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Water Baptism: What’s The Point

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All throughout the New Testament, Christian baptism is clearly identified for us.  Baptism is clearly a ceremony where, simply, someone is immersed in water, and it has a spiritual significance of great importance.  Baptism does not impute salvation nor does the act of baptism forgive sins.  Baptism is a public, outward expression of an inward and spiritual reality.  Baptism also does not give the holy spirit.  Tongues is not a sign of salvation or the baptism of the spirit. (But that’s for another time.)

Oddly enough, we don’t hear many sermons in church today on this subject.  Whether because pastors feel the matter of baptism is sort of elementary or because they think the members of their church know enough, I don’t know.  I do know that Baptism is important enough that it is included in the commission.

Matt 28:19 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Many great Christian conferences around today that all do great work and although there may be hundreds of people professing faith in Christ for the first time at these events, there is usually no follow up in baptism.  And yet, on the day of Pentecost, 3,000 people believed, and 3,000 people were baptized.  Peter gave this commandment:

Acts 2:38a – Peter said to them, “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ”

So the church is commanded to baptize.  That much is clear.

When Jews would baptize a gentile into their community, thus making that individual a proselyte, there immediately was a ceremony.  Their ceremony was a bit different than ours today however.  When a gentile would come into belief of the one true God; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they then entered a three part process.  The Jews had developed a ceremony by which a Proselyte would enter into privilege in the covenant community.   This process involved, circumcision (child or adult), water baptism by immersion (even Catholics dunked folks until the dark ages) and animal Sacrifice.  They were to bring an animal to be slaughtered.   The slaughtering of the animal was to remind that gentile that the forgiveness of his/her sin came at a price.

Here was the death of a substitute animal to picture the fact that there would have to be a substitute to die for their sins.  Are you getting the symbolic picture here?  The symbol of a substitutionary death, to gentiles who came believing, was depicting the ultimate lamb Who would come and truly abolish the dominion of sin.

Now that we know the history, skip ahead to John The Baptist!  John comes into the Jewish community, preaching repentance and baptism.  That alone isn’t shocking.  The Jews were more than familiar with baptism.  They had gone through the ceremony themselves and they were used to seeing people baptized.  What was devastating, however, was that John the Baptist was telling Jews that they ALSO needed to be baptized!  John was literally telling the Jews; God’s covenant people, that they were no better than the gentiles.  John was telling them, “YOU’RE WITHOUT HOPE IN THIS WORLD!  YOU ARE WITHOUT GOD!”

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If you know nothing about the O.T. Jews, you have to know this for everything to make sense.  The Jewish people had a deep seeded racial animosity against gentiles.  When they would come back from a gentile country into Israel, before crossing the border, they would stop and shake the dust off their cloak so they didn’t take any gentile dirt into their land.  The Jewish and Gentile relationship was a lot like Sam I am and the Dr. Suess guy who wouldn’t try green eggs and ham.

They would not, could not defile with a gentile.  They wouldn’t eat with them or even visit them in their homes because gentiles were “unclean.”  So John telling them, “you are no better than the gentiles,” was HUGE.  Everyone who repents and places their faith in Christ is to follow in believer’s baptism.

As the story goes, John The Baptist is preaching and baptizing people like normal when one day, something amazing happens…Jesus walks in.  As you should know, Jesus asks John to baptize Him and John tries to refuse.  John tells Jesus that it is He that should be baptizing John, not the other way around.  Jesus is perfect, spotless, without blemish, holy, son of God, who need not be baptized.  Look what Jesus tells him…astounding…

Matthew 3:15 – But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

To fulfill all righteousness.  That’s it.  Think about if Christ hadn’t been baptized.  We would definitely see the argument today of, “Well Jesus Himself was never baptized, why should I?”  Furthermore, it goes to show us how important obedience is to God; that His own sinless Son would follow through with baptism, merely out of obedience, to fulfill all righteousness.

Therefore, when an unbeliever comes and sees a baptismal service, they’re literally seeing an object lesson of the spiritual dynamics of one reckoning themselves dead unto sin, being buried with Christ in baptism, and arising from the water, to new life in Christ.  Baptism is a symbolic ceremony of upmost importance.

If you have believed and have never been baptized, you now have a mission this Sunday.

Live Love.

 

Best Religious Ponzi Scheme

imageJames 5:15 – And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.

Pastors of evangelical churches today make an average of $40,000 a year.  Prosperity gospel preachers are fairing a bit better though.  Kenneth Copeland for instance: his ministry’s 1,500-acre campus sits behind an iron gate, a half-hour drive from Fort Worth…includes a church, a private airstrip, a hangar for the ministry’s $17.5 million jet and other aircraft, and a $6 million church owned lakefront mansion. Continue reading

AM I CALLED TO EVANGELIZE?

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Matthew 9:38  – “therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

We need to shorten the gap between instruction & obedience.

God’s word says “go into all the earth & preach the Gospel.” (mark 16:15) There’s nothing wrong with praying about this, but…

Think of it this way, if I were to tell my son Landen, (after he grows up a bit) that the trash truck is coming soon and he needs to collect all the trash around the house and get it to the cans outside so it can all get to the dump, but instead of taking care of the task immediately, Landen asks me:

  • Where should I set the cans?
  • What bags should I use?
  • What time is the garbage truck coming?
  • Are you sure you want me to do it and not someone else?
  • Should I tie a knot in the tops of the bags or just twist them?

You can waste a lot of time praying about what method u should use when you’ve already got the call in front of you. Continue reading

Griswold Family Christmas Tragedy

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As I entered adulthood, I always thought that when I got older, got married, and started a family, that every Christmas would look like national lampoon’s.  I envisioned myself up on the roof, stringing 7,328 strands of twinkling lights together and checking each bulb, only to staple my sleeve to the roof, pull free, and subsequently have a near death experience.  Ahh the meaning of Christmas. Continue reading

Do All Children Go To Heaven?

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Do All Children Go To Heaven?

This question has undoubtedly been posed by many throughout history, especially by those who have tragically lost children or young family members.  Most recently, the horrific slaying in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14th 2012, that resulted in the loss of 27 lives — most of whom were children — is causing many around the world to ask this question as well.  One might also ask something similar in regards to the 100,516  unborn children who are murdered every month (in the U.S. alone) by their own mothers.  Do babies and young children who die before a certain age automatically go to heaven?  What is the age of accountability?  Does God, in His infinite wisdom, extend grace to “innocent” children? Continue reading